Sunday, June 27, 2010

The New(s) in our Life

It's been a long time since our last post so we have a little catching up to do. There have been a lot of new changes that haven't been posted yet so I guess we'll start with the biggest.

After my internship and bleak job hunt through the Spring, I decided to stay in Logan to work full-time for Landscape Expressions ( - the landscape design/build company where I have worked during the past 4 summers. Kristen decided to continue working at Inovar and is also considering going back to school for a bachelor's degree. Since we committed to stay in Logan for a while longer we also decided to buy a house while the market and tax incentives were good! So last month we found a house on the west side of Logan that we love and now we are all moved in! Well, we have our stuff moved in but there is still a lot to do (organizing, decorating, etc).  Thanks to everyone who helped us move - it sure made the job go fast!
A few of the many helpers posing after the trailers were unloaded

The other semi-new thing that we never got around to blogging about is our car that we got last August. I traded in my high-mileage Ford Explorer as a clunker and we got a new Hyundai Elantra. Since the wife always gets the most reliable car, Kristen now drives that and I took over the good old Cavalier.
Goodbye old reliable Explorer!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Smithsonian Internship

Well, I guess I'll just post a few highlights from my 12 week stay in Washington DC since there is too much to cover. I had the opportunity to live with Kristen's family in Alexandria, VA while working with the Horticulture Services Department at the Smithsonian. It was awesome to get to know my in-laws better and grow closer to them since I hadn't been able to spend much time with them previously. I was treated like the star child during my stay and sharing a two-bedroom townhouse with 6 other people was actually pretty fun!! OK, so there were 7 of us for only a few days during Kristen's visit, and 6 of us for just a few weeks between Kortney and Kordan returning from and leaving on missions. The rest of the time wasn't that bad with only 5 of us, especially with all the traveling each of us did.

I was only a half hour drive away from my brother and his family in MD so I got to visit them a few times during my stay. That too was a great opportunity to get to know my nephews better and catch up on visiting with family I don't see very often. It was great to be with them during General Conference, Halloween, Thanksgiving and other random weekends! I even got the basement to myself and had the chance to hear my nephews running around upstairs early each morning!

My internship was a good learning experience and the location was great. I worked at the Capitol Gallery office building just a block or two south of the the National Mall, and my Metro stop at L'Enfant Plaza was right outside the building. I would catch the Huntington Apartment shuttle each morning at 6:45 and ride the Yellow line directly to work arriving around 7:20. I worked until 4:00 with an hour lunch time around noon. I packed a lunch each day and often enjoyed eating it on the roof of my office building. When I got home I would either work out at the apt. complex gym or relax a bit before eating a delicious dinner prepared by my mother-in-law. The rest of my night consisted of de-wrinkling clothes for the next day, packing my lunch, showering & getting ready for bed and of course video chatting (skype) with my wife. Thank goodness for modern technology that helped the distance be more bearable!

At work I was able to attend meetings with the two full time Landscape Architects and do other various projects for them. I got a lot better at using AutoCAD & SketchUP and got a good feel for working in an office environment. The main project that me and the other L.A. intern worked on was updating irrigation zoning maps for all the museums. We went around with the irrigation technicians and mapped out the boundaries of each zone as they came on. It was great to see people scatter as sprinkler heads popped up unexpectedly and started overspraying sidewalks! The system usually runs early in the morning when no one is around so it's interesting to see the amount of broken or mis-directed heads that come on. They do their best to keep up on maintenance but it's a huge system with a lot of variables to take care of.

I got to see a lot of cool sites through field trips at work and with family on the weekends. Some of my favorites included: Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, the Maryland Science Center, Mt. Vernon, Fort McHenry, Gettysburg, Hershey and of course all the gardens, museums and monuments right in Washington D.C. The following pictures highlight a few of my favorite memories from my internship experience.

Busch Gardens had some pretty sweet rides! My favorite was the Alpengeist roller coaster - it was crazy!
The German food at Das Festhaus was delicious. We were able to attend a stake meeting in the upper assembly room and do a session in the DC temple. I also made it back a second time during the festival of lights. It was beautiful! We decided to check out the Library of Congress after seeing National Treasure 2 The Solar Decathlon competition was really cool. The whole middle of the Mall became a little community for a couple of weeks and I was able to explore some of the houses. I think I even caught a glimpse of bigfoot in the woods at Mt. Vernon!
Civil War grounds at Gettysburg from Little Round Top
Hershey Pennsylvania was a pretty cool little town
My brother and nephews at the Maryland Science Center
The Declaration of Independence - looks easy enough to swipe....
The National Mall at night
From inside the Washington Monument looking toward the Capitol
The National Cathedral My brother's family at Ft. McHenry - birthplace of the National Anthem